May-11th-2003, 04:34 PM
Here's an interesting little story that was in the Village Voice this week about how the Knitting Factory has changed from a place that was about making music to a place that is now about making money.
If you took a look at the Knitting Factory main space's April calendar, you saw punk semi-legends the Subhumans, Mark Gardener from Ride, alt-metal's Nothingface, singer-songwriter Vic Chestnutt, and hipper-than-thou A.R.E. Weapons. A solid lineup for a rock club, but the longtime flagship of downtown jazz's schedule featured only two jazz acts.
This change in booking has evolved over the last year with most hardcore jazz clientele moving over to Tonic for their Derek Bailey and John Zorn. According to Jared Hoffman, president of KnitMedia, the parent of the Knitting Factory, the club is adhering to its original charter of new and different music: "The problem was that the cutting-edge genres that made the Knitting Factory what it was in the early years continued to be a focus. And the cutting edge always changes." While that sounds progressive, the bottom line is now the bar. "Selling tickets is not a measure of how well you're doing," he adds. "It's whether the people who buy the tickets come in the door and drink." Apparently downtown types don't like to get shitfaced while watching Matthew Shipp. Who knew?
The club sometimes features Knit veterans like Tim Berne or William Hooker in the old office, and tap bar residences still include some jazz combos, but the club has turned a page. It should also be noted that Matt McDonald has been let go after three and a half years as club programmer. While founder Michael Dorf's departure earlier this year was much publicized, music fans are more likely to feel McDonald's dismissal in the months to come. —Tad Hendrickson
Last edited by hearsay; May-11th-2003 at 04:35 PM.
May-11th-2003, 07:50 PM
Hoffman can't possibly believe his own bullshit, but at least he follows it up (and contradicts it) by admitting that it's all about the benjamins.
May-11th-2003, 11:22 PM
What I find especially interesting is that this shift was happening years ago; now that the situation has been committed to print, I'm afraid that it's going to give the Knitting Factory management the go-ahead to do away with creative music completely.
The last couple times I've been there have been really depressing, all the more so since one of my favorite bands ever--Tim Berne's Science Friction band--was playing there. They've done away with decent beer at the Old Office--no more Anchor Steam, Pilsener Urquell, Boddington's, or Sierra Nevada PA--and they've stationed some goon to card people at the door and give them a "drink stamp." The carding policicy smacks of bureaucratic neanderthalism in that people who are visibly over 21 are indiscriminately carded, which really pissed off one guy I know, whose commented to me that "this place sucks."
I'm curious as to what's going to happen to the Knit record label, which has put out some fine product over the years, and did a very good deed with that Thomas Chapin box set. I suppose none of the people who used to run it still work there.
At any rate, the article will probably finalize the shift. It's good to have Tonic, but it was also nice to have at least two venues in NYC devoted to creative music--and I'll put in another word for the long-gone Internet Cafe, home to loads of good musical memories for me.
Thanks to Brett for posting that--I had missed it in my ususally thorough perusal of the Voice.
Formerly Known as Hat and Beard (!)
May-14th-2003, 09:20 AM
The funny thing is the times I've been to Tonic it seemed like their bar was doing very well. Go figure.